NSA officials deny ‘blanket’ surveillance during Utah Olympics alleged in former mayor’s lawsuit

National Security Agency director Michael Hayden. Photo: Wikipedia Commons/National Security Law Journal

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Former CIA and National Security Agency director Michael Hayden is denying allegations from a former Salt Lake City mayor that the NSA conducted a widespread surveillance program during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah.

In court documents filed last week, Hayden and current NSA operations director Wayne Murphy said the agency never conducted “blanket” surveillance in Salt Lake City or at other area Olympic venues during the games.

The declarations are a response to allegations from former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, who filed the violation of privacy case on behalf of the six plaintiffs.

Anderson, who was mayor in 2002, claims in a 2015 lawsuit that the NSA intercepted and analyzed all communications in the Salt Lake City area before and during the games. Anderson has said he learned about it from a 2013 Wall Street Journal report, and later confirmed it with an agency source whose name he did not reveal.

Hayden denied in his statement both that he ordered a widespread surveillance of electronic messages during the Games and that it actually happened.

“All of these allegations are false,” Hayden said.

Murphy said there was and is targeted surveillance of individuals suspected to be terrorists, but “blanket” surveillance was not practiced as alleged in the lawsuit.

The Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City happened five months after the Sept 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, which killed nearly 3,000 people and injured many more.

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